Is your job as a leader to get others further down the organisation to do things?
Although simplistic, this is a leadership approach that is familiar to us and most of us will have experienced it in one way or another, as a leader or a follower.
And, it can be an effective strategy, particularly for managing organisations – setting priorities, directing resources, keeping the strategy on track, overseeing implementation and other operational activities.
Everyone knows what is expected of them and it can work well.
However, do top-down leaders inspire those they lead to produce great results, or do they demand great results of them?
Do they earn the respect of the teams they lead or do they expect it, and even insist on it?
When the expectations of top-down leadership increase and the pressure starts to build, the ‘fatal flaw’ of top-down leadership is revealed; it lacks the essential qualities required to engage with people on a personal, collaborative and genuinely sincere level.
The truth is, when people feel valued and appreciated they will willingly go the extra mile to get the job done. When they don’t, the won’t!
What gets lost with the top-down approach as the pressure of unreasonable demands, unrealistic deadlines and chaotic work processes takes hold, is mutual respect, trust, camaraderie, transparency, candour, satisfaction, happiness – there’s just no time for the ‘niceties’ of life. The higher frequencies of the human condition – love, consideration, helpfulness, politeness, understanding, empathy – are squeezed out and we lose sight of the simple, human gestures like kindness, encouragement, appreciation, recognition and a heart-felt smile, that are the secrets of successful leadership.
If you are feeling stuck in the top-down leadership approach, the place to start is with yourself.
Make a conscious decision right now to create a different way of being for yourself, and for those you lead.
Decide to adopt an inside-out, rather than a top-down, approach because your purpose as a leader is to inspire others to be great…